Gold rose 0.8% yesterday (silver -0.4%), as the dollar came under pressure ahead of the G20 gathering in London.
It was the last day of the first quarter which saw gold rise 4.3% which is a second straight quarterly gain. In the quarter, gold was up some 10% in euro terms and some 6% in pound terms.
Gold thus again outperformed most other asset classes (as per performance tables below). The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the first quarter of 2009 at 7608.92, down 13% which was the worst first quarter in percentage terms since 1939. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, lost 12% in the quarter.
The G20 summit is set to dominate the markets for the rest of the week. A variety of issues will be discussed but perhaps most importantly China and the other BRIC nations will be pushing very hard for a reform of the international monetary system.
And it is not just the US’ strategic competitors in Russia (called for a return to a partial Gold Standard) and China who are calling for changes. European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said a “tri-polar” global currency system is developing between Asia, Europe, and the United States and that he’s skeptical the U.S. dollar’s centrality can be revived. Nowotny said in October “what I see is a system where we have more centers of gravity – I see for the future a tri-polar development, and I don’t think that there will be fixed exchange rates between these poles”
En route to London yesterday, US President Barack Obama had to fight his currency’s corner, after calls from both China, Russia and a UN panel to work out a new currency system, replacing the dollar. Questionably, Obama said that the US dollar ‘is now and will remain’ the world’s reserve currency and the strength of the US economy is unmatched.
Complacent commentators who never foresaw this crisis echo Obama’s sentiment. However, the US is the largest debtor nation, on an unprecedented scale, that the world has ever seen and international geopolitics is leading to a multi polar world and this will inevitably see the dollar’s preeminent role as the global reserve currency come under threat. The question is not if the US dollar will lose its status as the preeminent reserve currency rather it is when.
Excessive dependence and reliance on one currency the US dollar, (which is not backed by gold and is being debased as never before), is not prudent in a globalised world with emerging economic powers. Should the dollar resume its bear market in the coming weeks, which seems likely, energy and food prices will surge in value again and the world will feel the effects of virulent inflation.